Every three years, Kansas students and parents
will waste another million dollars on the unnecessary
Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST) for prospective teachers. The PPST once served a role by being the only required measurement of pre-service teachers' abilities in reading, writing, and math. However, the recent redesign of Kansas teacher licensing has established a far more extensive array of tests. It is time to dump the PPST that wastes students' time and money.
Starting this fall, student teachers will be required to take tests in the content areas they are preparing to teach. Since many teachers prepare for several fields, many will have to pay for several area tests, such as high school biology and middle school science, or chemistry and physics. These content tests are in addition to the Principles of Learning and Teaching test, an evaluation of the student teachers' command of the latest education methods, that has already been required for several years.
The State Board of Education that established the new test system recognized the PPST was no longer needed and dropped the PPST requirement over three years ago. However, the Board of Regents (BOR) voted 5-4 less than two years ago to keep this test requirement for state universities. The one-fourth of Kansas teachers prepared at privates colleges are no longer required take the PPST before entering teacher programs. However, the three-fourths of teachers produced at state schools still face this extra hurdle. Therefore, the PPST is not only redundant, but it is a requirement for some teachers and not for others.
Finally, students entering state universities have had to meet the Board of Regent's new Qualified Admissions requirements since 2001. These increased standards for ACT scores, high school grade point average, class rank, and coursework are now in effect for students moving into teacher training and student teaching at state universities. In the BOR discussions in 2001, one state university had examined the records of its students who did not pass the PPST and found that nearly all of them would not have been able to enter once the Qualified Admissions requirements were in place.
If we continue to add new tests for entering teaching, without dropping the older tests that are no longer necessary, it may soon become too expensive to "buy into" the teaching profession.
John Richard Schrock trains secondary biology teachers and lives in Emporia.